My first week in Gabon has been great. The Gabonese people are very friendly and relaxed, and the capital city Libreville is an interesting mix of urban modernity and developing city. I have been busy visiting some of the institutions I had contacted from Germany, and met with people at the University Omar Bongo (UOB) and the WWF Gabon to discuss the details of my research project. One PhD student at UOB has just completed his thesis on cultural mobility and it was good fun to talk about different theoretical perpectives on mobility. Speaking of which, the public transport system in Libreville consists of communal taxis.
There are hardly any road names, and addresses and locations are given in relation to something else – which is difficult if you are new in town and don’t know where you are going yet. When you get in the taxi, you greet the other passengers, and it has been incredible to witness the cordial exchanges that take place.
The other thing I love is that people sing along with the music in the supermarket – something I will certainly miss when I return to Europe. There is no substantial tourist infrastructure yet, and I have very much enjoyed just discovering things as I walked through the streets, such as the memorial to Gabon’s first president Léon Mba, where a group of dedicated students is setting up a new research archive on Gabon. I immdiately settled in to find out what information they had on historical and current migrations in Gabon.
Yesterday, I took the day off and went to Pongara national park, a turtle breeding ground which forms the Southern side of the estuary south of Libreville called Komo, and, as you can see, it was a magical Sunday afternoon in the tropics.